Back in My Place

"All visuals captured in camera by back projecting the animated story into the breaths of the band. In the same way that you can see your breath on a cold day, we filmed at -1ºC (30ºF) to make the animations appear."

~ Wriggles & Robins

by Travis, from Where You Stand

Another day,
I feel the weight
of the atmosphere’s pressure
and I can’t escape

I try to run, I try to find my feet,
my soul is stickin' to the street;

I gotta move,
I gotta get myself
to clean my shoes
and take the scenic route

However far, I’m following a star
Home is anywhere you are

And everything is falling into place
And then we move again
So take the curve and move along
Until we’re gone, we’re moving on (and on and on and on...)

I feel alive, I am aware
of the colors in the sky where the birds don’t fly
And if the night is coming pretty soon
I’m walking through the dark with you

I’ve got to play
I’ve got to listen
to my toy today
on the motorway

And I could feel the ground
beneath my wheels,
putting me back in my place

Another day, another place
where I can find my way
take the Avenue A

And I know exactly where to go
Home is anywhere you stay

See also: "Animated Music Video Filmed Through a Band’s Breath in Freezing Temperatures by Wriggles & Robins," Colossal, July 2, 2013

Passing through the World

"I attempted to create a person in order to emulate the aging process. The idea was that something is happening but you can't see it but you can feel it, like aging itself."


Danielle from Anthony Cerniello on Vimeo.


Fleshly Answers
by Rachel Hadas, from Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems

Doomed beauties, my companions, my familiars,
your long arms braceleted with snakes of danger,

a questions twines in all the undergrowth.
How can we tell the living from the dead?

Puvis de Chavanne’s tall pearly figures
dressed as sturdy Spartans at the chase

turn out to be pale paper dolls in space.
And how can we be sure that we’re alive?

Our bodies, aging, changing, slow and stiffen.
On flesh if not yet quite inert increasingly opaque,

bite or bruise or blemish pose the questions
Where have you been? What have you been doing?

My sister’s leg, scaled by a manic cat
nearly three years ago, still is scored and punctured.

Last September I picked blackberries
bare-armed; here are the scratches ten weeks later.

We are passing through the world.   
This is some of what is does to us.

See also: Is This What Aging Really Looks Like? by Donna Sapolin of Next Avenue

Who Burst Your Bubble?

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins, from their collaborative album, Diamond Mine

I won't let you fall, as low as I been
I promise to crawl until I'm back on my feet
If something went wrong, just think of me
If something went wrong, don't you know I'd be here

So who's been unfair, who causes you sorrow?
And who's been unkind, who burst your bubble?
And who drags you down, down, down, down?
Who handed out lights?
And now I'm in trouble

I won't let you fall, As low as I been
I promise to crawl, Until I'm back on my feet
If something went wrong, just think of me
If something went wrong, don't you know I'd be here

Animated Prose

Using around 3,000 still images, Andersen M Studio has animated an extract from Maurice Gee's novel, Going West, for the New Zealand Book Council...

Colenso BBDO commissioned Andersen M Studio to create this stop-frame animation, which took around eight months to complete. The film was designed and animated by the studio's Line Andersen and photographed by her brother, Martin, who set up Andersen M Studio in 2000.

"The entire film is handmade, using only 10A scalpel blades and paper," explains Martin Andersen.

~ Creative Review (11.30.09)

See also: Altered books (Wikipedia)

We Find Beauty in Something Done Well

“The next time you pass by a jewelry shop window displaying a beautifully cut, teardrop-shaped stone, don’t be so sure it’s just your culture telling you that that sparkling jewel is beautiful. Your distant ancestors loved that shape and found beauty in the skill needed to make it—even before they could put their love into words.”

~ Denis Dutton, author of The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution

Animating without Getting in the Way

StoryCorps episodes, which have been animated by brothers Mike and Tim Rauch, will be shown on the PBS documentary series POV and can also be seen on the StoryCorps YouTube channel.

Simon Kilmurry, the executive director of American Documentary, which produces POV, told The New York Times, “The audio pieces are so wonderful, you pause and listen and let your imagination go. The challenge with the animation is to retain that intimacy and not let the animation get in the way of the story.”

Enchanted by the Trick and the Story

How the Puppets from Fantastic Mr. Fox Were Made [Slide Show] by Julian Sancton, Vanity Fair, 11.23.2009

Wes Anderson discussing the appeal of stop-motion animation with Michael Specter from The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox: A Film by Wes Anderson Based on the Book by Roald Dahl:

The thing I’ve always loved with stop-motion, more than anything else, is puppets that have fur, and actually not only that. I also like the fighting skeletons in, maybe it’s Jason and the Argonauts, or maybe it’s one of the Sinbad movies where they have the fighting skeletons. But I have always like — I love the way King Kong, the old King Kong, looked, with his fur – the animators call it “boiling.” And for some reason, the whole magical aspect of stop-motion was one of those things where you can see the trick — I mean, you know the Cocteau movies? The visual effects in Beauty and the Beast, for instance, are things where you can really see that a person is behind this wall sticking their arm through it, holding a torch, and the film is running backwards, and so that is how this light is coming on, or the mirror is actually water. You know, those kinds of effects, where you can see what it is, have always been the most fascinating and mesmerizing and moving to me. And with stop-motion, the whole film is that sort of thing in a way, to my mind. So I guess, to the degree that that makes any sense, that’s more or less where it comes from for me. That magical effect where you can see how it is accomplished — where at one and the same time you are enchanted by the trick to the effect and by the story itself. I have no idea why this concept means so much to me.

A Shadow’s Dream

Creatures of a day
What is someone?
What is no one?
Man is merely a shadow's dream
But when god-given glory comes upon him in victory
A bright light shines on us and life is sweet
When the end comes the loss of flame brings darkness
But his glory is bright forever.

~ Pindar of Thebes (522-443 BC)

The Shadow's Dream by Jeff Scher

The Shadow’s Dream’ from Jeff Scher’s The Animated Life

Extending Our Reach

Excerpts from Ray Kurzweil’s “Introduction to 9”:

Our emotional intelligence is not just a sideshow to human intelligence, it’s the cutting edge. The ability to be funny, to get the joke, to express a loving sentiment represent the most complex things we do. But these are not mystical attributes. They are forms of intelligence that take also place in our brains. And the complexity of the design of our brains – including our emotional and moral intelligence – is a level of technology that we can master. There are only about 25 million bytes of compressed design information underlying the human brain (that’s the amount of data in the human genome for the brain’s design). That’s what accounts for our ability to create music, art and science, and to have relationships.

Mastering these capabilities is the future of AI. We will want our future AI’s to master emotional intelligence and the movie 9 shows us why. We want our future machines to be like the stitchpunk creations, not like the rampaging machines.

My view of the future is that we will work hand-in-hand with friendly machines, just as we do today. Indeed we will merge with them, and that process has already started, with machines like neural implants for Parkinson’s patients and cochlear implants for the deaf. But my vision of the future is not utopian. While I don’t foresee the end of conflict, future conflict will not simply be man-versus-machine. It will be among different groups of humans amplified in their abilities by their machines, just as we see today.

The stitchpunk creations succeed not despite their emotionalism and bickering with each other, but because of it. We will want our future machines to be emotionally, socially, and morally intelligent because we will become the machines. That is, we will become the rag dolls. We will extend our reach physically, mentally, and emotionally through our technology. This is the only way we can avoid the apocalyptic world that 9 wakes up to.

No Time

Check out Jeff Scher’s blog, The Animated Life.

From “The Parade,” June 29, 2009:

The streets of the city are a non-stop parade of humanity. It’s a kind of grand, unchoreographed ballet of human locomotion. One of the great pleasures and measures of being urban is losing yourself in the crowd, with your feet and mind wandering, alone in your head but elbow to elbow with an inexhaustible supply of strangers…

We can’t help it. We are fascinated by faces and bodies alike. Every face tells a story, and the story is a mystery. The clues abound and we read them instinctively in the blink of an eye. We categorize one another as bums, businessmen, tourists, models, etc., almost unconsciously. But what fun it is to stare, and revel in the passing faces, reading wardrobe, ethnicity, posture, age. Indeed, it’s a feast with every possible variation of the species on parade. By walking in their midst we too become a part of the constantly changing people-scape and offer our own version of the mystery.

Read the whole post and watch the related video...

[Thanks Kit!]

She Really Does Emote

Coraline: A Visual Companion Animator Travis Knight talking about the many facial expressions which had to be created for the characters in Coraline. The main character herself required over 200,000 different expressions (from Coraline: A Visual Companion by Stephen Jones):

“For facial animation, in particular, we’ve been able to find ways to use a computer to help out the stop-motion. Replacement animation has been around forever, but there’s only a certain amount of refinement you can get with it—it’s hand-done and it’s a little crude, but it does have a real beauty to it. With the computer you can make it pixel-perfect, get real subtlety.”

“We have these machines that can transfer what we’ve done with the computer, make physical objects out of them. That’s how we did a lot of the facial replacement animation. We were modeling and sculpting in the computer, printing them out on these wacky 3-D printers, painting them all by hand, and then fitting them and putting them on the puppets. That was how we got this really incredible, subtle, beautiful, and expressive facial animation.”

A painter in the puppet department cleans Coraline replacement faces on location in Portland. "Coraline," August 6, 2008

“It hurts my stomach to think about all those poor people who had to paint all that stuff and build all that. But I think it shows. When you see the film, she really does emote, and she feels like a real, living, breathing girl. Of course, all that comes from the animators.”

Vice President of Animation Travis Knight works on the "Coraline" set in Portland, Oregon. August 7, 2008